Compromising National Security and ‘Colonialitis’
Posted on January 7th, 2015

By Rohana R. Wasala

Courtesy The Island

…FUTA executive committee member and ex-FUTA Chief Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri emphasized that there was absolutely no basis for a government claim that Maithripala Sirisena’s election would be detrimental to national security. …. (and) … accused Sri Lanka’s former ambassador in Geneva Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke and presidential media spokesman Mohan Samaranayake of propagating falsehoods to cause panic among the electorate”. I am quoting from The Island today (January 5, 2015).  (The Colombo University don was addressing the media at Solis Hotel Pita Kotte.) This would be very comforting news for us if his claim were plausible. It is too early to know what the other two gentlemen have to say in response. But my opinion is that Dr Dewasiri is seriously mistaken in his assumptions. To back his clearance certificate, he will have to find out and explain away the unavoidable accommodations and quid pro quos that Mr Sirisena, to secure their support in his presidential bid, must have offered to the different factions including particularly the TNA and the so-called Tamil Diaspora which do not seem to have renounced their Eelam dream in any credible manner; he will have a difficult time trying to deny the plethora of unmistakable evidence of lingering separatist aspirations that are still to be seen, though only among a small section of the Tamil community. As a man engaged in education and also entangled, perhaps unwillingly, in a bit of related politics, Dr Dewasiri must by now know something about Mr Vigneswaran’s exclusive proposals for education in the north, which reflect a not so secret desire to develop it as a separate political entity distinct from the rest of the country. However, it is a fact that the majority of our dear  culturally and historically related Tamil  compatriots whom we daily interact with and share our joys and sorrows with on an equal footing wherever we happen to be in our little island home do not look forward to living in such a separate Tamil utopia. So long as the north is haunted (from the south’s point of view) by fears of separatism, national security must remain a special priority.

Another intellectual who recently caught my attention in the current political context in Sri Lanka is sociologist Mr H.L. Seneviratne, whose article entitled The awesome power of the people” in The Island last Saturday (January 3rd) contained shockingly puerile assertions about the nature of politics that the present administration indulges in including the following:

The Rajapaksa governance embraces the worst of the pre-1956 Bamunu Kulaya culture with none of its positives, like the rule of law, and an independent public service and judiciary. Even the most cursory glance at the policies and activities of the regime, including its contemptuous assumption that the people are fools, will show that there is plenty in it to ensure a repetition of 1956.”

Sir, these are not positive cultural” values, but certain admirable administrative principles that the so-called ‘Bamunu Kulaya’ (a Sinhala phrase that Martin Wickremasinghe used to refer to the then privileged Westernized local ‘elite’) had inherited/or just adopted from the departing British in governing the country after independence. Not that we were or are chronically devoid of such principles. The British colonial government had an efficient civil service that only served the interests of the occupying colonialists and their local lackeys. It was not a democracy. Through the medium of the English language the foreigners terrorized and oppressed the poor rural masses (i.e., the ‘native’ Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims) who had to be content with mere bare existence, while they plundered the country’s resources. Imperialism was the greatest crime committed on humanity particularly by Europeans over the past five hundred years or so, and, in a different guise, it has still not let go of victim nations including ours. Even I, no sociologist, know that a nation’s culture is a very complex thing; it cannot be reduced to mere civil service or politics. The sense of fair-play, justice and humanity that are behind the positive principles you have mentioned in the above quote are better admired and demonstrated  in opportune moments in our traditional non-violent Buddhist culture than in ‘cultures’ that discovered humanitarian values during ‘The Age of Enlightenment’ in Europe from the 1650’s to the 1780’s, that too only as a result of the rise of reason and scientific thinking there. We learned these values including the value of rational thought at least three centuries before the Common Era (See the ‘catechism’ of king Denanampiya Tissa by Arhant Mahinda Thera in The Mahavamsa).

There are a number of other similar inanities in Mr Seneviratne’s article, which it is not my purpose here to criticize. May I politely suggest that he read (or read again if he has read it already) Martin Wickremasinghe’s 1952 collection of essays titled Aspects of Sinhalese Culture”? To know something about the actual superiority of our ancient Buddhist culture to that of the invading Portuguese who claimed to have come to ‘civilize’ us, but in reality started the atrocious European depredations in this country, please look up Dr Susantha Gunatilake’s A Sixteenth Century Clash of Civilizations” (2012).

During almost the whole of my youth and adult life (as in the case of other Sri Lankans of my generation including the president) our peace of mind was wrecked and our lives constantly threatened by destructive terrorist adventurers who sought, in vain, violent solutions to real or perceived problems that could have been resolved through patient democratic dialogue. The evil legacy of uneasy relations between the majority and the minority communities left by the British who had adopted their usual ‘divide and rule’ policy (a tactic that they and other slave-traders used by mixing slaves speaking different languages to prevent them from organizing themselves into bands in order to revolt and escape) could also have been settled soon after independence, had enough Tamil politicians adopted the same non-communalist approach to the post independence government of the country as that adopted by  Sinhalese Buddhist leaders like D.S. Senanayake. Interested readers may read veteran journalist and longtime associate of the first prime minister of independent Sri Lanka H.J. Hulugalla’s biography of the late leader. The historical truth is that if Sinhalese leaders acted in ways that made them appear to be specially concerned about Sinhalese Buddhist interests (still not neglecting those of the minorities, though) it was only because the minority leaders failed to cooperate with them in a non-communal way. Even today some Tamil and Muslim politicians, contrary to the wishes of the mainstream of their communities, insincerely talk about the rights of their own communities without recognizing those of the majority community.

The alleged communalism of the Sinhalese Buddhists is a complete myth, like other myths fabricated about them to justify the continued persecution of the majority community as punishment for asserting or for trying to assert their independence while not disadvantaging the minorities that live with them as equal citizens, in this their one and only homeland. None of the ‘southern’ parties including the Jathika Hela Urumaya and Bodu Bala Sena (I am sure some people will be shocked to read this) are communalist in the way the ethnic minority parties are. The JHU and the BBS always stand for the rights of all the minorities without discrimination with the same zeal as they defend the rights of the majority Sinhalese Buddhists. They came into being only in reaction to the communalism of certain marginal ethnic outfits that started threatening the peaceful coexistence of different communities through their intolerant extremist ideologies. Examples are many of the Sinhalese willing, then as now, to accept the leadership of members of minority communities as readily as that of Sinhalese leaders. Prabhakaran used to characterize the JVP as a racist party, although it was not. The Island of Friday 2nd January reported that the leader of a splinter group of that party, the Frontline Socialist Party,  an ethnic Tamil named Kumar Gunaratnam or Kumar Mahattaya (Sin. Mr Kumar) who became an Australian citizen under a false Sinhala name Noel Mudalige” returned to Sri Lanka on a visit visa which is valid till 28th January. Earlier he had been deported from here on illegal entry two and a half years ago. The Island reported that he criticized the JVP in the first ever interview given to a paper here. I, for one, am happy, not because he criticized the JVP about which I am neutral, but because he is being recognized as the chief of a party mainly consisting of young ethnic Sinhalese revolutionaries, which demonstrates to the world that the Sinhalese are not racists.

Intellectuals like Mr H.L.Seneviratne seem to suffer from what a character in (Toronto University/Canada) professor Suwanda H.J. Sugunasiri’s novel Untouchable Woman’s Odyssey” (available at Vijitha Yapa bookshop, Colombo and online at  [email protected] and also at Amazon.com) calls colonialitis or Englishitis, which terms, the author has coined to refer, as I understand, to a failure to understand or a kind of indifference or even contempt on the part of certain educated people of our country, products of a Western education, towards our truly great traditional culture and ancient history which we should be humbly proud of. (The main, kind of composite, character in the novel, Milton, is a Shakespearean scholar.) Showing skepticism and scant respect towards these things apparently is taken to be the mark of scholarship and intellectuality. To me, it is nothing more than intellectualism. I am not a sociologist nor a historian. But my gut feeling is that the best students of the culture and the history of a country or a community are those are born to them. The acuity of the scholarly and scientific investigation of the ‘truth’ of indigenous historical narratives we have inherited and that of the valorization of our cultural heritage need not be deemed compromised when we automatically feel an empathetic warmth towards and a familiarity with the historical characters and events we set ourselves to study (though centuries separate us from them).  The tendency to glorify a bygone rapacious imperialism or its immediate successors by making its authoritarian efficiency (which was directed at the successful exploitation of the human and other resources of the country for creating wealth for those who were here illegitimately) and make it a foil to set off alleged shortcomings of the country’s rightful leaders today who are struggling to improve things as best they can against various pressures exerted by those very same evil forces in different garb is not something to be applauded.

Concluded

7 Responses to “Compromising National Security and ‘Colonialitis’”

  1. Christie Says:

    Hi educated and academised read some English historical records and see who colonized Ceylon under the British. They are Indians and I call them Indian colonial parasites. They are the Tamils like Rohingiyas in Burma. The closer you are to the colony you get more of the same Indian colonial parasites. Like Arthur Calwell an Australian politician said the live off the smell of a rag and breed like flies. British did not want to colonize tropical dominions because they went “troppo” and got all kinds of ailments. So they were the absentee landlords and Indians were the colonial parasites.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    12 killed today by two Islamic terrorists in Paris, France! The terrirists are still on the run!

    Kouchner, why don’t you offer help to RESCUE these terrorists now? It is YOUR OX being GORED now!

    Calling Kouchner, Helloooo … are you listening?

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    CERTAINLY, the Winner of tomorrow’s election should address the “Tamil Issue” in Sri Lanka, but NOT BY DEVOLVING POWERS, but by

    1. REPEALING the 13th Amendment,

    2. DISSOLVING the Provincial Councils and replacing them with DISTRICTS administered by GOSL APPOINTED Government Agents,

    3. BANNING ALL COMMUNAL political organizations,

    4. PROSECUTING & PUNISHING all those who VIOLATE TREASON LAWS by conniving with foreigners to DESTABILIZE and UNDERMINE the nation, and

    5. PROHIBITING foreign NGOs from interfering in Sri Lanka’s internal politics and religious matters, and monitoring their activities closely.

    In the meantime, INDIA can BUTT OUT of Sri Lanka’s internal politics and attend to its own knitting by uplifting its people from abject poverty and endemic societal discrimination.

    This may come as a surprise to Indians, but Sri Lanka is FAR AHEAD of India in assuring SOCIAL EQUITY and does not consider India as a superior model for Sri Lanka to follow.

    ……………………
    Sri Lanka winner must address Tamil issue: BJP

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Jan 07 (NK) The winner of the Sri Lankan presidential election Thursday must first address the Tamil issue, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vijay Jolly said Wednesday.

    “Whoever wins in Sri Lanka should first address the Tamil issue,” he said, wishing “all the best” to both President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena.

    He said a peaceful, free and fair election was necessary for democracy in Sri Lanka.

    “The devolution of powers, re-starting dialogue with Tamil National Alliance leaders and settlement of all pending Tamil issues is necessary for lasting peace in Sri Lanka,” Jolly said in a statement.

  4. Ratanapala Says:

    Christian Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri is an agent of the Catholic Church well entrenched at the Colombo University who is working incessantly to bring about Christu Rajaya in Sri Lanka as per the wishes of the Late Pope John Paul II. It is when you understand him in this light that one can see his doings. It is clear as daylight that the Catholic Church wants to bring about regime change in Sri Lanka with the help of the Christian West and the LTTE rump overseas.

    In the South they are running with the hares and in the North they are running with the Tigers. I sincerely hope that President Mahinda Rajapakse understand this dichtomy.

    It is unfortunate that patriotic Christians / Catholics cannot see this reality.

    As the goings in Europe clearly show, there should be a limit to the tolerance shown to such traitors; for the dangers that they can slowly bring about to an ignorant populace are huge, dangerous and devastating .

  5. S.A Says:

    සුදනන්සේ යහපාලනය ඇතිකිරීමටත්, දූෂණය නැතිකිරීමටත් මොරදෙති. ඉතා කෙටි මතකයක් ඇති ඇතැම් මෝඩ පිරිස් ඔවුනට හුරේදමන ආකාරය ඉතා සoවේගජනයකය..
    කුරිරු යුද්ධයෙන් රට ගලවා ගැනීමට නායකත්වය දුන් මිනිසාට බොරු චෝදනා නගමින් චරිතඝාතනයේ යෙදෙන තමාගේම සිහින ලොවකසිටින ගුණමකුවන්ගේ සිතුම් පැතුම් යම්හෙයකින් ඉටුවුවහොත් උනුනට ඔවුනට හුරේදමන මෝඩ පිරිස් වලට වෙන්නේ තමාගේම නාසය කපාගැනීම වැනිදෙයකි.
    මේ අවස්ථාවේදී මහින්දට ඡන්දය නොදෙන පාහරයින් සැබවින්ම දේශද්රෝහීන් වෙති.

  6. Ananda-USA Says:

    To the ALWAYS FAITHFUL Patriots,

    A Heartfelt Tribute in Gratitude!

    Semper Fidelis, Patriots of Lanka

    By Ananda-USA

    Our Motherland, resplendent Sri Lanka,
    Hallowed be thy name!
    Thy children flock today to vote,
    To preserve thy immortal flame!

    The Lion Flag flutters proudly aloft,
    To remind us this freedom’s day!
    Our duty to keep thee, safe and strong,
    As our forefathers did yesterday!

    A Mahinda Rajapaksa by deed and word,
    Strode forth boldly to eternal fame!
    To lead his people to a safer world,
    When all others retreated in shame!

  7. Ananda-USA Says:

    Embala Sinhalayeni!

    Apey Mau Bima Deshadroheegen Rakeemata Athigaru Mahinda Rajapaksa Janadhipathi Uthumata Ada Obey Chandaya Denna!

    Eddath, Addath, Hetah Ohu Apey Mau Bima Rakeemata Sudusu Rana Viruweki!

    Ratna Deepa, Janma Bhumi
    Lanka Deepa, Vijaya Bhumi
    Mey Apey Udaara Wu
    Maathru Bhumi-yayi!
    Maathru Bhumi-yayi!

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